At last year’s XVI Festival del Habano, Habanos S.A. took another step into the big ring gauge craze. While the cigar itself only measures 5 x 58, it’s a Cohiba, and not just any Cohiba, the Edición Limitada for 2014.
There are inevitably Cuban cigar purists that continue to scoff at smoking the extra large Cohiba, but for many—including retailers—it was greeted with a smile. Big ring gauges aren’t just an American thing, something I’ve documented for the last few years, but Habanos S.A. has generally avoided it. The company’s most noted foray into a large ring gauge was with the Cohiba BHK 56 in 2010, but there’s a pretty big difference between 56 and 58.
The Cohiba was the last of the three Edición Limitadas to arrive last year, showing up in the Swiss market in late 2014.
I briefly described the program in the news story last year:
In 2000, Habanos S.A. launched the Edición Limitada series, which creates cigars that are not offered in the regular production portfolio for select brands. Since 2004, Habanos S.A. has limited the series to three releases per year and since 2007, all cigars are said to use tobacco that has been aged for at least two years.
These cigars now receive a secondary band noting their Edición Limitada status and the year it was selected. By in large, the series has relied on Habanos S.A.’s global brands—Cohiba, H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Partagás and Romeo y Julieta. Although, José L Piedra, a global brand, has not been part of the program, while multilocal brands like Bolívar and Punch have been used for Edición Limitadas.
- Partagás Selección Privada Edición Limitada 2014 (6 3/10 x 50) — $23 (Boxes of 10, $230)
- Bolívar Super Coronas Edición Limitada 2014 (5 1/2 x 48) — $33 (Boxes of 25, $825)
- Cohiba Robustos Supremos Edición Limitada 2014 (5 x 58) — $50 (Boxes of 10, $500)
(All pricing is estimated.)
- Cigar Reviewed: Cohiba Robustos Supremos Edición Limitada 2014
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- Est. Price: $50 (Boxes of 10, $500)
- Date Released: November 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4
It is by no means the darkest Cohiba Edición Limitada I’ve seen, although it still is a shade or two darker than many Cohibas, particularly Siglos. From the foot, I pick up leather, vanilla extract, floral and some acidic flavors. The cold draw is tight—and after looking at the roll—I end up recutting three out of the four cigars before the end of the first third. Flavor-wise, there’s a big sweet twang, hickory, white pepper on the tongue and some bitterness behind it.
While it’s not the largest cigar on the market—not even the largest thing I’ve reviewed this week—it’s a bit large, particularly in the hand. The Cohiba Robustos Supremos starts with a hearty cedar, some big earth, sweet nuttiness and some acidic notes. Pretty early into all but one of the samples and I’m staring down a cigar that has way too much tobacco in it. None of the three tighter samples are plugged, butI wouldn’t be continuing any of them beyond the first inch if it wasn’t for a review or the fact that the cigar is $50 or more. As for the flavor, three of the four samples feature a mixture that includes burnt cedar, nuttiness, readiness, some floral flavors and a lemon tea finish through the nose. One sample is fairly rancid, presumably due to the draw, with a mixture of sour and bitter flavors completely overwhelming the palate. Oddly, while the draw is awful on all but one of the cigar, the burn line is actually great.
The sample that was terrible in the first remains awful in the second third. As for the other three, another Cohiba Robustos Supremos takes a turn for the worse, turning very sour, albeit, avoiding the bitterness that plagues my least favorite example of the cigar. As for the other two, there actually somewhat enjoyable with the floral notes moving to the front, on top of some earthiness. There’s a bit of an apple cider behind it, along with some emerging cocoa powder through the nose. The Cohiba is still very much medium, although occasional puffs show some desire for the flavor to get fuller. Construction remains pretty much the same: awful tightness with decent smoke production and an even burn sans the one sample whose draw is okay.
There is some reward for my struggles, at least on two of the cigars. For the two better samples, including one with a poor draw, there’s sugar cookie, floral and grapefruit before sourdough bread and creaminess take over on the finish. It’s delicate and sweet, but also a great change of pace for the monotonous handful of cedar and pepper bombs I oftentimes smoke. As for the other two samples, after getting passed the sourness and bitterness, there’s some toasty cedar and harsh black pepper. It’s a confusing pair of journeys, particularly considering the draw on one sample didn’t destroy the flavor. While burn had been great through the first two thirds, all four cigars see it go a bit off with some needing correcting.
- I hold the belief that when Cuba wants to make the best cigars in the world, it can. This was not it. Examples of that happening can be found here, here and here. While it wasn’t a legendary cigar, I really enjoyed the Partagás Edición Limitada 2014, I have not smoked the Bolívar yet.
- I find it interesting that while Habanos S.A. has generally stayed away from the large ring gauges, custom rollers in Cuba have been making even larger sizes for a while.
- The Edición Limitads are limited, but Habanos S.A. does not disclosed production numbers.
- Smoke production was good throughout all four cigars I smoked and for the most part, the burn was great.
- I enjoy lanceros and smoke quite a bit of them. One thing that I’ve begun to notice is that I am smoking more plugged, or nearly plugged, larger ring gauge cigars—whether it be Cuban, Honduran or Nicaraguan—than smaller ring gauges with the same problem. My guess is that comes from bunching experience. The bunchers that roll lanceros are almost always going to be amongst the best in the factory due to the difficulty of the size.
- That being said, I would hope—even for Habanos S.A.—that the better rollers are responsible for making a $50 cigar for a flagship brand.
- I quickly snapped this picture of the last sample I smoked, the one with the terrible draw, but decent flavor.
- I could do without the new Cohiba bands. I understand their purpose—i.e., making it harder to counterfeit—but they are getting a bit busy in my opinion. And between the new band and the secondary band, so much of the cigar is covered in paper.
- Pricing varies pretty dramatically due to the taxes in each country and whether you might be buying the cigars on the gray market. The German market seems to have some of the lowest prices, around $40 per cigar, but most markets are $50-60.
- Speaking of numbers all over the place, my guess is that the one sample with good flavor and good draw would have been in the low 90s, there was at least one cigar that probably below a 50. I didn’t look at how each cigar performed, but the below score is an average between the four cigars.
- For the most part, the Edición Limitada and Reserva have shown up on time, i.e. the 2014s ship by the end of 2014, unlike say the Edición Regional series, where the vast majority seem to arrive a year later. That said, the H. Upmann No.2 Reserva Cosecha 2010, last year’s Reserva release, has sill not arrived.
- The 2015 Edición Limitadas include the H. Upmann Magnum 56 (5 10/11 x 56) and the Ramón Allones Club Allones (5 3/10 x 47). Since 2005 there has been three Edición Limitadas ever year, it’s unclear if that will change for 2015 or the company will announce the third at a later date.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel from a U.K. retailer.
- Final smoking time varied quite a bit. The sample with the okay draw took around one hour and 30 minutes, while some of the tighter examples took over two hours and 15 minutes.
Three out of the four cigars I smoked would have been tossed because of the draw had this not been a review. They were smokeable, but barely, and I don’t think anyone would have taken too much objection to classifying them as plugged. On the one sample that had a good draw and oddly enough, one with a bad draw, the Cohiba Robustos Supremos showed that it could be worthy of some of the hype that has followed the cigar. However, the other two samples not only had the poor draw, but also varying degrees of terrible flavor. Some part of me wants to smoke one out of another box to see if I can experience some of what so many others have described as a very good cigar, another part of me has had enough of overly-tight, $50+ big ring gauge Cohibas for a while. But even for that one sample that had a good draw and good flavor—it was just that, good, not great.